The Body Project: Fit Forearms

The giant black car pulled up silently and a corpulent man stepped out.

“Your client is here,” the studio manager said and gestured towards the car park. I frowned, clearly remembering a woman’s name on the schedule.

The man walked to the other side and opened the passenger door.

“This way, Mrs. B.” We heard his voice, loud but gentle, through the windows.

A black and silver cane emerged from the vehicle. Then, a pair of designer shoes. A luxurious dark coat. A cashmere scarf. The man with the booming voice helped the senior lady out of the car and helped her towards the door.

“Hello,” she said as soon as she stepped in. “I’m here for Pilates.” She held out her hand to me, making a fist. “I have arthritis. Look.” She bent and stretched her fingers several times and grimaced.

“Nice to meet you,” I said. “Let’s get started. We can work on that.” And I led the octogenarian client over to the Pilates machines.

New to The Body Project? Check out the other articles in the series. 

The Forearm Muscles

As mentioned last week, your arms are the main way you interact with the world around you. To be able to function normally and effectively, grip strength is essential.

There are two main muscle groups in the forearm: the wrist flexors and the wrist extensors, which allow the backwards and forwards movement of the wrist. They contain many little muscles which work together. Your wrist flexion is especially important, as it also helps to improve your grip strength. Two of the exercises below are designed specifically for this purpose, whereas Wrist Extension trains the opposite action. It is best to do all three so that you are strengthening your forearm in a balanced way.

Forearm
The many little muscles of the forearm

I suggest starting with small weights. However, if you are using weights larger than 1kg, it is best to rest your arm on your leg or on a table instead of holding it up without support.

Hangs

Lift your arms overhead and hold a bar, palms facing forwards. Lift your feet off the ground so that you are hovering. Stay for 10-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times if you can. Take care to keep your shoulders drawn down from the ears, keeping your neck long.

17 Infographic 1

Wrist Flexion

Sit in a comfortable position and hold a weight in your hand, palm facing up. Slowly curl your wrist upwards, then release and return to a neutral position. You can do one arm at a time or both at once.

17 Infographic 2

Wrist Extension

Sit in a comfortable position and hold a weight in your hand, palm facing down. Slowly curl your wrist upwards, then release and return to a neutral position. You can do one arm at a time or both at once.

17 Infographic 3

Have you ever had trouble with your forearm, wrist or grip strength? Have you ever consciously trained any of them?

This is the last Body Project article before the conclusion. Do you have any exercise or anatomy-related questions? Ask in the comments! I will be looking to cover topics directly related to readers’ interests after this project is complete.

SOURCES AND DISCLAIMER

Most of the information in this post comes from my years as a Pilates instructor. However, if you’re interested in reading more, here are some great resources:

The Muscle Book. Paul Blakey, 1992.

Trail Guide to the Body A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More. Andrew Biel, Robin Dorn, 2014.

PhysioPedia. <https://www.physio-pedia.com/> Accessed 1.7.2020. 

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

 

Dealing With The Dark Days

After a gorgeous sunny week, the Swiss sky started pouring down on Sunday night and hasn’t stopped since then. As the rain drummed against the windows, I got some bad news about one of my projects. Although it is a minor issue, it made me question everything. Is this online venture ever going to work? Am I going to succeed with any of it? Or will I end up wasting many frustrating hours on something I’m clearly not cut out for?

Whether you are pursuing financial independence, online entrepreneurship or both, you are bound to hit roadblocks along the way and get discouraged. You might even feel like giving up. What do you do when this happens?

Let’s have a look at some of my strategies to get me ‘out of my own head’.

Reality check

pexels-photo-853168
They all made it – why can’t you and I?

I’m not a big fan of affirmations in general. Although they can work well for many, I always feel that I am trying too hard to convince myself. But there is one statement that really works for me because it is based on logic. Maybe a version of it can help you, too.

Tens of thousands of people are making online ventures and financial independence work. What makes you think that you are an exception? If they can do it, you can, too.

I like this one because it is realistic. If so many people can find their niche, grow their portfolio and make it work, then surely you and I can, too. However, while there are some amazing instant success stories out there, most people will take at least a year or two to build up some traction. It’s important to remember that success is unlikely to be instant.

During one of my lockdown walks, I listened to ChooseFI’s interview of Joanna Penn. Whenever I get discouraged, I come back to her example and how it took her 4+ years of building her platforms until she became a successful full-time author-entrepreneur.

Patience is important, because we can’t all reach the top immediately. Lightning won’t strike for most of us. But that’s OK, because the work is its own reward.

Joanna Penn

For me, this means that I have to keep going for another 3.6 years to really give it a fair shot.

Action, Action, Action

pexels-photo-461077
Just get it done!

Whenever I experience a setback, I want to immediately start doing things to counteract the problem. Sometimes, they are useful and sometimes they are not, but if done right, they can get me closer to my goal.

On Twitter, many people tell you to ‘become 1% better every day’. This seems highly unrealistic. Who can consistently improve their life, following and earnings by 365% every year? Not many people, and definitely not me.

However, a setback is the perfect time to step back, have another look at what I am currently doing, and improve it by 1% or more. In moments like this, I can:

  • Admit to myself what is and isn’t working, and remove anything that isn’t.
  • Learn from the mistake and make sure I don’t repeat them.
  • Reach out to people who can help me to overcome the problem and get better.
  • Learn or add something more productive to my life, whether it is a habit, skill or connection.

Take a Step Back

sky-space-dark-galaxy
Looking at the bigger picture.

In many articles and guides, this comes first. For me, it is the last piece of the puzzle. When I’m in the middle of a crisis, I can’t just switch off and forget about it. Instead, I take the first steps towards fixing it. Once I have improved the situation, I can take a deep breath, zoom out, and give myself a break. Some things that calm me down are:

  • Taking a walk with a loved one and talking it through – or talking about something else entirely.
  • Reading a good book, preferably in a calming, natural setting.
  • Going for a long solo hike.
  • A movie and good food night.
  • Taking care of animals or plants. Growing something.
  • Reading inspiring blog posts, for example from Mr Money Mustache or Banker on FIRE.

Your list will be different, but it is crucial to zoom out, looking at the bigger picture, after a crisis. You can re-evaluate your priorities and dive back in with renewed focus and drive.

What do you do when you’re faced with a setback?

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to my weekly email roundup, where I share the newest A Chat with Kat articles and other great posts. 

You might also like: 

The Long Road to Financial Independence: Kat’s Journey

Making An Online Income: My First £400+

5 Steps to Your Set-And-Forget Notebook Selling Business

 

The Body Project: Awe Inspiring Arms

“I need to work on my arms,” my young client, Anna, said. She smiled, showing off her dazzling, white teeth.

“Okay.” I handed her a theraband. “Let’s get started with some biceps curls.” 

After a strenuous session, Anna plopped down onto the studio’s sofa and exhaled. “That was good, my upper arms are still burning!”  

“Why do you specifically want to work on arms?” I asked.

“Well …” She looked up at me with excitement shining out of her hazel eyes. “I’m getting married!”

The Arm Muscles

Whether you have a big life event coming up or not, working on arm strength is crucial. The arm muscles are the most well known antagonistic pair: the biceps and the triceps. They are large, long muscles in your upper arm and while the biceps, which has two heads, bends the elbow joint, the triceps, with its three heads, stretches it back out. 

16 Biceps Triceps

Our arms as a system are the main way we interact with the world around us, so it’s important to keep them strong. Many women tend to focus on the abdominal and glute area, neglecting upper body strength in favour of an Abs, Bums and Tums style workout.

Today, let’s pay special attention to the biceps and triceps and how to strengthen them. For a full upper body workout, combine these exercises with the Deltoid ones and the Back ones

Triceps Pumps

Start kneeling with your body pitched forward, but in neutral. Your arms are glued to your side,  in line with your spine. Lift them up and pulse them up and down for 30-60 seconds without stopping, keeping your stomach drawn in and your shoulders down. 

16 IG 1

Triceps Push Up 

Start in a plank on your knees. Make sure your shoulders are down and you are in one line from your knees to your head. Bend your elbows in towards you and lower your body slowly down as far as you can. Your chest can touch the floor, but keep the body in a neutral position. Quickly push yourself back up into the plank position. Once this is easy and you can complete 20 repetitions without issue, you can stretch out into a full plank position and complete the triceps push-up with knees straight. 

16 IG 2

Biceps Curls Seated

Draping your band around your feet, curl halfway back in a round spine. Bend your elbows up towards your shoulders, then straighten them back out. Try not to drop your elbows – the higher, the more challenging. You can modify the exercise by grabbing the band closer to your feet (harder) or further away (easier). Keep your transverse abs engaged and the spine slightly rounded throughout. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions. 

16 IG 3

What’s your favourite upper arm workout? Do you have a go-to exercise to quickly strengthen your biceps and triceps?

If you want to do a short, upper-body focused routine, check out my Wedding Workout post. 

SOURCES AND DISCLAIMER

Most of the information in this post comes from my years as a Pilates instructor. However, if you’re interested in reading more, here are some great resources:

The Muscle Book. Paul Blakey, 1992.

Trail Guide to the Body A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More. Andrew Biel, Robin Dorn, 2014.

PhysioPedia. <https://www.physio-pedia.com/> Accessed 1.7.2020. 

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

5 Steps to Your Set-And-Forget Notebook Selling Business

I glanced at the computer screen and nearly jumped out of my chair. Could it be true? 

“Royalties Earned,” stood in bold black writing on the Amazon KDP website. Below, a table with all the book sales in different countries. For the past two weeks, this table had been a pitiful sea of 0’s. But not today. £1.29, read the total. 

I jumped up, heart racing, barely able to contain my glee. 

“I earned royalties! I made my first £1, I can do this!” 

Since that day, I have made an accelerating number of sales. Although I’m still at the start of this venture, it’s looking very promising. Today, let’s explore this side hustle and how to make a success of it.

Also check out last week’s post on how I made my first £400 online

1. Learn About the Business 

When I mention the blank books business, most people don’t know what it is. It is not as well known as some other print on demand options, which makes it even more appealing. In a nutshell, you can publish blank notebooks on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon will sell and ship the books for you. The main advantages of this type of business are: 

  • It’s easy to get started: You just create a cover and an interior and upload them to Amazon. No need to deal with printing, shipping or even advertising. 
  • Ultra low risk business: Taking the course to learn about notebook publishing is the only business cost you have. You don’t have to pay Amazon anything unless your book sells. Once the customer has paid, the cost of printing will be taken out of your royalties. 
  • Passive income: Once you have uploaded your blank books, they can sell for many years. There are some popular notebooks from 2013-2014 which are still selling every week or even every day. It can be a wonderful passive income stream. 
  • It is fun! This is an often forgotten, but very important reason to start publishing blank notebooks. For many people, creating cool designs is a fun and rewarding hobby. Why not get paid for something that you enjoy doing?

Sounds great, doesn’t it? What’s not to love? 

Although it’s a great option, KDP is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes a fair amount of work to get started. You need to keep learning and improving your keywords and the quality of your books. It may take 6 months until you have published enough books to provide a sizable, regular income stream. However, once you do, this could last for a long time with very little extra work. 

2. Purchase A Course

The easiest way to succeed with KDP is to learn from someone with lots of experience who has put together a comprehensive and easy-to-use guide. 

Flavio from Side Business Launch fits all of these criteria. I am usually sceptical of the ebooks sold on Money Twitter, but I decided to give his Teachable course a go because he seemed like a sincere and knowledgeable teacher. What a great purchase it was! Through his video lessons, I learned everything I needed to know to get me started on KDP. Less than a month later, I had already made more than double of what I had spent on the course through a combination of blank notebook sales and affiliate sales. 

I am not a particularly good saleswoman, so this surprised me. If I can do it, you most certainly can as well – especially as the course is now 15% off. This offer is exclusively for my readers, and you can access it with the discount code katspin. 

Now 15% off

ACCESS THE COURSE HERE

The great advantage of taking a course with Flavio is that he is always available to answer additional questions. As a newbie, I needed a lot of help while working my way through the course. Every time I sent Flavio a message, he replied the same day and often even in the same hour.

When you join me in this venture, I want to be the same helpful resource as Flavio is. Not only do you get the course at a 15% discount when you buy through me, but I am also running an additional special offer. I will buy and rate your first blank book, providing you with a guaranteed first sale and rating! Just contact me once you’ve bought the course and let me know about your first journal. 

3. Actually Do The Course

You’ve decided to give it a go and purchased the course. Congratulations! Make sure to start going through it right away and spend an hour a day on it until it is completed. Don’t postpone this, as it will make you less likely to complete the course and see success. Take action now! 

4. Upload, Upload, Upload

By the end of the course, you have uploaded your first book. You have learned: 

  • How to get the correct cover dimensions and create great covers.
  • How to create an interior for your book. 
  • Best practices regarding keywords, SEO and descriptions. 
  • How to market your books. 
  • How to upload to other platforms such as Barnes and Noble. 

With just one book out, you can’t expect a lot of sales. It’s time to hunker down and upload, upload, upload. I initially uploaded 13 books and got my first sale from one of them. This motivated me to keep going, and I set myself a goal of publishing 100 notebooks in two weeks. It was hard and it was a lot of work – but the trickle of sales I am getting now more than makes up for it! 

5. Keep Uploading When You Can

After that initial push, it is okay to slow down slightly. It’s not realistic to publish 100 books every two weeks, especially if this is a side hustle for you. However, to turn that trickle of sales into a stream, you will need to keep adding books for a while. 

Personally, I will explore new niches and add 10-20 books at a time, then take a break and see which ones sell best. That way, I can produce more of the successful types of books. 

 

Have you ever tried a print on demand type of business? Did it work well? Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. 

Did you enjoy this article? Check out my brand new Entrepreneurship page, where you’ll find all the articles related to self employment, blogging, social media and side businesses. 

 

The Body Project: Reliable Rotator Cuff

My slender young client beamed at me. “Look, I can do this now!”

She pulled on the bright purple elastic band, sending her elbow out to the side. Her shoulders remained stable and strong as she powered through her reps.

“I could never have done this three months ago, after my operation,” she said. “It’s so much stronger.”

I smiled and nodded. During teacher training, I had learned a lot about the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder and how to deal with injuries, but this was the first client I’d helped to recover from such an operation. I beamed as I watched her move her arms freely, once again able to complete all of her everyday tasks.

The Rotator Cuff Muscles

There are four muscles involved in your rotator cuff. Each one has a slightly different functions, including:

  • Abducting the arm (lifting it sideways).
  • Adducting the arm (drawing it towards the body).
  • Rotating the shoulder joint outwards.
  • Rotating the shoulder joint inwards. 

To keep the shoulder joint healthy and strong, we need to do all of these actions. Let’s have a look at a series of four exercises that involve all four rotator cuff muscles, so that they  are strengthened in a balanced way. 

15 Anatomy
The muscles of the rotator cuff.

External Rotation

Sit either in a cross-legged position or on a chair, with your band under your sitting bones. Lengthen your spine to neutral, draw in your navel, then grab the band with the opposite hand. Exhale, keep your elbow touching your side and move your hand outwards, so that your shoulder joint rotates. Inhale, slowly return back. 

15 3

Internal Rotation 

Sit either in a cross-legged position or on a chair, with your band under your sitting bones. Lengthen your spine to neutral, draw in your navel, then grab the band with the same hand. Exhale, keep your elbow touching your side and move your hand inwards towards your body, so that your shoulder joint rotates. Inhale, slowly return. 

15 4

Shoulder Adduction (‘Playing The Cello’)

Sit either in a cross-legged position or on a chair, with your band under your sitting bones. Lengthen your spine to neutral, draw in your navel, then grab the band with the same hand. Exhale, pull it across your body and inhale, slowly release it back. Keep your shoulder down throughout the exercise.  

15 2

Shoulder Abduction (‘Nudging Your Neighbour’) 

If you read last week’s post on the deltoid, you are already familiar with this exercise. It is an important component that not only strengthens the deltoid, but also your rotator cuff. 

15 1

Sit either in a cross-legged position or on a chair, with your band under your sitting bones. Lengthen your spine to neutral, draw in your navel, then grab the band with the opposite hand. Pull it out to the side, imagining that you are nudging your neighbour with your elbow. Take care to keep your shoulder down throughout this exercise. 

Have you ever had a problem with your rotator cuff? If so, what did your specialist recommend?

Other Articles You Might Enjoy

Neat Neck: Neck Exercises to Remove Stiffness

Applaudable Abdominals: How to Strengthen Your Core

Glorious Glutes: On Toning Up Your Bum Muscles

SOURCES AND DISCLAIMER

Most of the information in this post comes from my years as a Pilates instructor. However, if you’re interested in reading more, here are some great resources:

The Muscle Book. Paul Blakey, 1992.

Trail Guide to the Body A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More. Andrew Biel, Robin Dorn, 2014.

PhysioPedia. <https://www.physio-pedia.com/> Accessed 1.7.2020. 

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

Making An Online Income: My First £400+

The FIRE movement can be summed up in one short sentence. 

Save 50% or more of your income for 10-20 years, then you can retire and live off your investments. 

Although this is much better than the traditional advice of ‘get a job and work until you are 65’, it still leaves you with at least a decade of full-time work. Is dealing with soul-crushing commutes, tyrannical bosses and awful coworkers for 10+ years the only way to gain your freedom? 

The Up’s and Down’s Of A Job

The answer is always ‘no’. You shouldn’t be dealing with any of these. If your job is that bad and if you are suffering on a daily basis, it’s time to quit. Find a better situation ASAP. 

However, if you are like the vast majority of people, your job is okay. ‘It’s not terrible, I can take it,’ you say to yourself. You might even enjoy parts of it. 

In many ways, I belong to that group, too. My work is the ideal balance of physical work (teaching Pilates) and mental challenge (German tutoring). Every day, I get to interact with lovely clients from all walks of life, helping them to improve their health and language skills. It can be hard work, but it is also rewarding and fun. What’s not to like? 

Even this seemingly ideal work situation has some big drawbacks. The biggest problem pre-pandemic were the 5+ hours I spent on the London Underground most days, commuting to and from various in-home sessions. This often meant getting up at 5am and returning home after 8pm. My work-life balance was off, but in an effort to achieve FI faster, I ignored this and pushed myself to do more and more work. 

pexels-photo-3371242
Spending hours a day on the London transport system.

Sporadically, I would ask myself: “Is this really the best way to get to FI? There must be an easier path.” But I was too busy and too tired to change tracks. Besides, that might mean a lower income for a while and I didn’t want to risk it. 

Then, the pandemic struck and I had no choice but to alter the way I worked. For the past four months, I haven’t once set foot on an underground train or a bus. All my sessions have been exclusively online. Combined with a reduced client load, cutting out five hours of commuting meant that I could focus on other things. I started a blog and a Twitter account, which grew way beyond my expectations. 

Finally, I have a voice, an ‘internet home’ that serves as a base to explore various online ventures from. I am still at the beginning of my online money-making journey, but today I want to share a few possibilities I have learned about in the past months. 

Online Money Making Strategies: Are They Viable?

The possibilities for making money online are endless. Some require a small upfront investment, but in the vast majority of the cases, this is very minor. So far, I have experimented with four different strategies: 

  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: A platform where you can perform menial jobs in exchange for a small amount of money. It is a great place to start, especially if you are in the USA or India. In those countries, you can get your earnings paid out in cash instead of vouchers. I would recommend this as a way to earn some money that you can then re-invest into higher-paying or more long-term online ventures. 

Total Earnings So Far: Around £30 (in Amazon.com vouchers).

Read my Side Hustle Review of Mturk

  • Editing Books and Articles: This is a wonderful job for someone like me, who loves to read and edit. However, it is not easy to set up. You have to earn the trust of your followers and readers, so that they are eager to have their materials edited by you. My first client was a friend, and having a positive review from him helped me to get a second client very quickly. 

Total Earnings: Around £350

  • Affiliating: This is a great way to get started because you don’t have to have your own product. Instead, you can sell someone else’s to your friends, followers and readers and earn a commission. I am affiliated to a blank notebook publishing course, Trading 212, Bluehost and Amazon, so every time one of these products or companies makes a sale through my affiliate link, I get a commission. 

Total Earnings: Around £85

  • Blank Book Publishing: On Amazon, you can design and publish blank notebooks. This is an excellent long-term, passive income opportunity, as Amazon handles all of the printing and shipping. All you have to do is upload your books and they can potentially sell for years. I only started my KDP journey this month, but am already seeing the first sales. If I stick with it, I can build up a sizeable passive income this way. Some people report earnings of £1000+ per month. 

Total Earnings: £2.58

The Verdict

So, is internet income a viable alternative to slaving away at a job for 10-20 years? For dedicated people happy to put in the work upfront, the answer seems to be yes. There are many success stories of people traveling the world making money online. What’s stopping members of the FIRE community doing the same? Why wait for decades before making the leap? 

I am excited to see where my online ventures go and, although I am not yet – or maybe ever – ready to give up my teaching work, making money online through different income streams  is a great option to accelerate my FI date. 

Do you have any experience with making money on the internet? What is your favourite online income stream? 

Stay tuned for a more detailed post about blank book publishing next week!

The Body Project: Shapely Shoulders

“Two out of every three people will experience a shoulder injury or problem at some point in their lives.” MedicineNet

A shocking statistic? Maybe, but when I think about the number of clients with shoulder problems I have seen, it makes sense. Countless people seek out Pilates after pain, injury or an operation of their shoulder joint. Although the exercises can make a difference and help them to feel better again, a damaged shoulder is one of the hardest joints to take care of.

Instead, let’s work on preventing the problems from occurring in the first place. Two of the key muscle groups of your shoulder joint are the rotator cuff and the deltoid muscle. Today, let’s talk of the latter – but stay tuned for next week’s rotator cuff article. 

New to The Body Project? Read the introduction or take the quiz.

The Deltoid Muscle 

The deltoid is a triangular muscle that covers the top of your shoulder. If you put a hand on your shoulder, you are touching your deltoid muscle. It has many functions:

  • It is the main muscle that lifts your arm out to the side (abducts it). 
  • The front part of the deltoid helps to lift your arm to the front. 
  • The front part also rotates your arm inwards. 
  • The back part of the deltoid helps to lift your arm to the back. 
  • The back part also rotates your arm outwards. 
14 Deltoid
The front, middle and back deltoid.

As you can tell, it is a vital muscle that affects many movements of your shoulders and arms. Here are some exercises to keep it strong and healthy. 

Arm Circles 

Sit or stand in a neutral position with your arms out to the side. Make sure that your shoulders stay down and pull your navel to your spine to engage your transverse abs.  Draw small, quick circles in the air for 30 seconds, then reverse. The circles should be about the size of a basketball. You can use small weights (0.5-1 kg or 1-2 pounds) if you have very strong arms or want to make the exercise more challenging. 

14 1

Deltoid Pumps 

Sit or stand in a neutral position with your arms out to the side. Make sure that your shoulders stay down and pull your navel to your spine to engage your transverse abs. Pump your arms up and down in the air, moving them about 30 cm (1 foot). Keep going for at least 30 seconds. You can use small weights (0.5-1 kg or 1-2 pounds) if you have very strong arms or want to make the exercise more challenging. 

14 2

Shoulder Abduction (‘Nudging Your Neighbour’) 

Sit either in a cross-legged position or on a chair, with your band under your sitting bones. Lengthen your spine to neutral, draw in your navel, then grab the band with the opposite hand. Pull it out to the side, imagining that you are nudging your neighbour with your elbow. Take care to keep your shoulder down throughout this exercise. 

14 3

Have you ever had any trouble with your shoulders? What is your favourite exercise to strengthen them? 

SOURCES AND DISCLAIMER

Most of the information in this post comes from my years as a Pilates instructor. However, if you’re interested in reading more, here are some great resources:

The Muscle Book. Paul Blakey, 1992.

Trail Guide to the Body A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More. Andrew Biel, Robin Dorn, 2014.

PhysioPedia. <https://www.physio-pedia.com/> Accessed 1.7.2020. 

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

Are You Coast FI Yet?

Imagine yourself at age 35. You have a career, you have a family, and you have an active social life. It’s the age when many of your friends are starting to think about their retirement plans. 

‘Maybe I should have a look at that,’ they mumble, scrunching up their noses. ‘But it’s just so tedious!’ 

Meanwhile, you stay silent and smile. Your retirement is sorted. All you have to do is coast along, working enough to support yourself and your family until official retirement age. In fact, you’re planning on going part-time next year. You worked hard to climb the career ladder; three days a week are more than enough to pay for your standard of living. 

FIRE Light

If you’re a dedicated FIRE enthusiast like me, you’ll have come across many different variations of FIRE. Certainly, you will be familiar with the three most common variations: 

  • Barista FI: When you have an investment income that covers almost all of your expenses and a (part-time) job as a barista would be enough to supplement it. This is what my initial goal is: enough income that I only have to do one day’s work a week. 
  • Regular FI: When your investments cover all of your expenses. 
  • Fat FI: When your investments cover way more than all of your expenses. Often pursued for maximum peace of mind. 

The topic is so personal that everyone can put their own spin on it and pursue a version of it that works best for them. I came across one interesting option last week: Coast FI. According to a recent episode by ChooseFI, this is when you’ve saved up enough that you will have plenty of income by the time you retire. Provided you don’t mind doing enough work to pay for your living costs, you never have to save another penny and will be able to retire at the official retirement age. 

Could this be a lighter, more easily achievable variation of FIRE? Let’s have a look at the numbers.

How to Calculate Coast FI

It’s not as simple as calculating a regular FI number, as you have to factor in inflation. Let’s use an example: 

Mary is 25 years old. She currently spends £20k per year and wants to retire at age 62. How much does she need to be considered CoastFI?

For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume: 

  • 2.5% annual inflation 
  • 7% annual investment returns
  • 4% safe withdrawal rate

If Mary were to retire today, she’d need £500k (20 000 x 25). However, due to inflation, her annual spending will have more than doubled in 37 years’ time. It will be around £50 000, provided she spends at the same level. Therefore, she will need a portfolio of £1.25 million. How much does Mary need to have invested today to reach this number without ever contributing again? 

The answer: £103 000 (1 250 000 / (1.07^37)). It may be a lot for a 25-year-old to save, but considering the fact that she’ll be a millionaire and the money will more than 12x without her doing anything else, this is not bad! 

Regular FI feels far removed from many people’s realities, but Coast FI could be a more achievable goal: front-load all the hard work and remove a big hurdle early on. Not having to worry about how to support yourself in old age can be a huge relief and avoid a lot of stress later in life.

Let’s look at some other examples based on £20k annual spending and a retirement age of 62 (numbers are the closest approximation, or rounded up):

Age Current spending  Spending at age 62   Required portfolio value at age 62 Required current assets to be CoastFI
20 20 000 56 500 1 415 000 85 600
30 20 000 44 000 1 100 000 126 300
35 20 000 39 000 975 000 156 900
40 20 000 34 500 862 500 195 000
45 20 000 30 500 762 500 241 400

 

As you can see, compounding beats inflation and the younger you are, the easier it is to reach your CoastFI number. Another reason to start investing as early as possible! 

Have you heard of CoastFI? Are you CoastFI already or working towards it? Let me know in the comments! 

Want to learn more about FI and read about some people who are pursuing it? Check out my ‘Long Road to Financial Independence’ series: 

The Body Project: Neat Neck

“I almost died,” my new client said. “I had a really awful accident two years ago. Now, I have all kinds of problems. My neck is so stiff, I can barely even park my car. The bones were fractured and there are metal parts in there now.” He paused, gesturing up at the back of his neck, then continued to speak about his other conditions. 

Five minutes later, I was still taking notes. ‘This man’s issues are never ending,’ I thought. ‘How am I ever going to help someone with so many injuries?’ 

Joe is still my client two years on, and we have developed an exercise routine that works around all of his conditions. Since then, he has recovered an amazing number of everyday functions, including crouching down to get the beer from the fridge and being able to exercise without significant pain. But the best part? 

In Joe’s own words: “I parked the car yesterday and it felt like it used to before the accident!”

How did that happen? 

Of course, a big component is time. As Joe gets used to life after his operation, he is becoming less cautious and scared to use his neck. In addition, the Pilates exercises have helped him to regain some of his previous range of motion, making day to day activities easier to achieve. Let’s explore our neck muscles and what we can do to keep them healthy. 

New to The Body Project? Check out the other articles in this series. 

The Neck Muscles

There are many muscles in the neck, some of which include:

  • The Sternocleidomastoid (SCM): This long muscle runs from your clavicle to your skull bone. Often, you can see it protruding when you rotate your head to the side. It helps you to flex, side bend and rotate your neck. 
  • The Three Scalenes: These are three little muscles that span from your vertebrae to your first and second ribs. They also side bend and rotate the neck. 
  • The Longus Capitis and the Longus Colli: Both of these are small and deep muscles that flex, side bend and rotate your neck. They are also attached to your spine.

13 Neck Muscles

Your neck is one of the body parts that is most prone to tension. This can happen if you stay in the same position, such as sitting at a computer for a long time or sleeping in an awkward position, or if you overdo your exercise routine. Some people experience neck tension if they do abdominal curl-up’s. If this is the case, stretches may provide relief. Below are two of the most beneficial neck stretches and one strengthening exercise. 

If you want to work the back of your neck and your shoulders, you can add the Swan Stretch into this routine. 

Neck Engagement 

Sit in a neutral, comfortable position. Put your hands behind your head, elbows pointing outwards. Engage your neck muscles and press your head into your hands. The hands should stabilise against the pressure of the head. This movement is not visible, it is internal. 

13 1

Side Neck Stretch

Sit in a neutral, comfortable position. Reach up and hold on to the side of your head, gently pulling it sideways. To intensify the stretch, reach out your opposite arm. 

13 2

Diagonal Neck Stretch 

Sit in a neutral, comfortable position. Look diagonally to the side and grab the back of your head. Apply downwards pressure to feel the stretch in the back of your neck. 

13 3

 

Have you ever suffered from neck tension? What did you do to relieve it? 

Let me know in the comments – and don’t forget to subscribe for more fitness and finance-related articles! 

SOURCES AND DISCLAIMER

Most of the information in this post comes from my years as a Pilates instructor. However, if you’re interested in reading more, here are some great resources:

The Muscle Book. Paul Blakey, 1992.

Trail Guide to the Body A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More. Andrew Biel, Robin Dorn, 2014.

PhysioPedia. <https://www.physio-pedia.com/> Accessed 1.7.2020. 

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

The Why’s and How’s of Starting Your Own Blog: Part Two

Congratulations! You’ve decided to give it a go. Your catchy blog name and beautiful logo are ready, you’ve decided on a great niche and you’ve crafted the best first post ever! 

Not quite there yet? Check out Part 1 in this mini series!

Now what? 

Like any technophobe, you sit in front of your computer, not sure what to do next. How does one even go about starting a blog? 

Starting Your Bluehost Blog

Using Bluehost to set up your blog is actually very simple. Here’s a step by step guide to get you started. 

Step 1: Go to the Bluehost website (aff. link). The price varies slightly, but should be somewhere between £2-4 per month ($3-4.50). 

Step 2: Choose your plan. There’s Basic, Plus and Prime. If you are a beginner blogger, the basic plan should be sufficient, but you can double check the options to see which one is the best fit. You will also be able to choose the duration of your plan: the 12-month option is the most expensive, the 36-month one is the cheapest. I opted for a 2-year plan as it is affordable and by that time, I will know whether blogging is working for me or not. 

Step 3: Choose your domain name. Under ‘New Domain’, you can enter your chosen name. If it’s available, you can claim it as your website!

Step 4: Log into your Bluehost account and choose ‘Wordpress’ as your website builder. Check all of your settings and then click ‘Install Now’. Once this is done, you will be able to set up and edit your blog directly in wordpress, without having to log into Bluehost every time. 

Step 5: You can now log into your WordPress admin page without having to go through Bluehost. I usually log in directly from wordpress.com and have opted to ‘Stay Logged In’ on my main laptop. 

Step 6: Choose a theme for your blog and start customising it. Some suggestions: 

  • Add a clear, visible menu at the top of your page. That way, you can link to a few important pages, such as your ‘About’ page and maybe a ‘Work with Me’ or ‘Subscribe’ page. 
  • Make your font easy to read: dark writing on a light background is usually best. 
  • Add some widgets to make things easier for your readers. Mine are in the sidebar to the right. It’s useful to have a search bar, latest posts, categories, or anything you would like to promote. 
  • Make your ‘Subscribe’ button really easy to find. Put it in your sidebar, at the top of your page, and you can even ask readers to subscribe at the end of each post. 
  • If you have a Twitter account, you can embed this into your blog

That’s it! Once you have completed these steps, your blog is ready to go and you can start posting. 

Do you have any additional questions? If you already are a blogger, what other tips would you add? 

Make sure to check out Part 1 if you haven’t yet, and subscribe to my weekly Friday roundup, where I share relevant articles on finance, entrepreneurship and fitness.